Our last Under the Microscope is here! We have gone district-by-district through 5A and 6A every week since mid-April and there is just one district left to take a look at. We have saved the best for last with District 11! This district features division 1 talent all over the field. The top three teams in this district are three of the best in the state. One last time let’s dive in and take a look at how the playoff race might shake out in District 11!
Duncanville has landed a transfer quarterback! Grayson James is a three-star recruit who comes over to Duncanville from John Paul II in TAAPS. When I recorded the district breakdown for this district, James hadn’t yet transferred, so disregard my talk about Duncanville needing to find a quarterback. Losing Chris Parson to Red Oak certainly hurts, but James is a more than capable replacement. The Panthers have made back-to-back trips to the 6A State Championship Game and return tons of talent all over field. James will be well protected as Duncanville might have the best offensive line in the entire state. Four-star recruit Savion Byrd leads the group and has his choice of nearly any school he wants. Juniors Jaylen Early and Cameron Williams are also four-star recruits who have nearly 30 college offers. The group is rounded out with Texas Southern commit Kedric Williams. Baylor commit Roderick Daniels leads the receiving corps and junior Jerrale Powers has an Arkansas offer and will play a role in the passing game. Tight end Marcus Vinson has a Kansas offer and will factor into the offensive game plan as well. The defense has just as much talent coming back as the offense does and it will be led by linebacker and Alabama commit Kendrick Blackshire. Three-star recruit Jordan Crook is another talented linebacker and just a junior. The secondary will be led by SMU commit Jadarius Thursby at safety. The defensive line is a strong unit, led by a pair of seniors. Kevon Ivy is a UNLV commit and Tyler Quinn is heading to Colorado State. Junior defensive end Omari Abor is a four-star recruit and might be the best of the group. Junior Pierre Goree has offers from Arkansas and Michigan and could play a number of positions for the Panthers. Duncanville is a favorite to make it back to the state championship game, though the Panthers will have plenty of competition, including from teams in their own district.
One of the teams that will challenge Duncanville is the DeSoto Eagles. DeSoto finished the 2019 season with a 9-3 record and a loss to Southlake Carroll in the playoffs. The Eagles return tons of talent all over the field and will compete for the district title. It starts with Illinois commit Samari Collier at quarterback. The dynamic quarterback will have playmakers to get the ball to in Texas Tech commit Jerand Bradley and Arkansas commit Jaedon Wilson at wide receiver. Another wide out to keep an eye on is rising sophomore Johntay Cook II, who already has offers from Auburn and Oklahoma State, among others. UCONN commit Yakiri Walker will lead a talented offensive line tasked with protecting Collier. The offense is loaded with talent but so is the defense. DeSoto might have the best defensive line in the state. The tandem of four-star recruit Shemar Turner and Baylor commit Byron Murphy II will wreak havoc on opposing backfields. The secondary has plenty of talent with Colorado State commit Lathan Adams and Devyn Bobby leading the way. A strong sophomore class will help the Eagles tremendously this season as this team has more depth than most others in the state. I love this DeSoto team and I think the Eagles will challenge Duncanville in district play and I wouldn’t rule out a run to the state championship game either.
Cedar Hill Longhorns
Cedar Hill finished the 2019 season with a 9-3 record and a tough loss to Denton Guyer in the playoffs. The only reason Guyer defeated Cedar Hill was by recovering onside kicks and keeping Cedar Hill’s star quarterback on the sidelines. Kaidon Salter is a Tennessee commit and one of the most dynamic quarterbacks in the entire state. Salter is one of my favorite players to watch. The Horns have some questions on offense though. Only one starter returns on the offensive line and the receiving corps is young. Running back Kevin Young has an offer from North Texas and will be relied on heavily. The defense returns seven starters and will be led by defensive end Charles Esters III, who is committed to Texas Tech. Cornerback Amarian Williams is committed to Liberty University and will be expected to lead the secondary. If Cedar Hill finds some playmakers at wide receiver and along the offensive line, this team will challenge Duncanville and DeSoto for the district title and are a threat to make a run to the state championship game.
Waco Midway Panthers
I have Waco Midway taking the fourth playoff spot in this district. The Panthers finished with a 9-4 record last season and made a run to the state championship game a few years ago. Midway returns senior quarterback Preston Moore to lead the way for a team that should absolutely compete for a playoff spot.
If Midway doesn’t make the playoff, I have the Mansfield Tigers taking the last spot, and I wouldn’t sleep on the Tigers this year. Mansfield finished the 2019 season with a 4-6 record and returns 10 starters to this year’s squad. Longtime Mansfield assistant coach Greg George takes over the program after passing of former head coach Daniel Mayberry. The Tigers will undoubtedly be playing inspired football this season as they try to honor coach Mayberry. Quarterback Hunt Young is back and expected to have a big season. Donerio Davenport is a talented playmaker at running back who plays both ways and wide receiver David Godsey is receiving FBS interest. River Gordon and Cole Hardin will lead a solid offensive line. A solid linebacking corps will lead the defense with Brayden Moore and Max Harris. Rising sophomore Cayden Cutler saw the field as a freshman and could make an impact at multiple positions. The Mansfield Tigers will be a team to watch this season and will compete with Midway for the final playoff spot in this district.
Lake Ridge Eagles
Lake Ridge missed out on the playoffs last year with a 5-5 finish in a tough district. That district gets even tougher this season. The Eagles return 10 starters but doesn’t return a quarterback or running back from last season’s team. The offensive line will be led by Nate Bennett and Jordan Allen. Lake Ridge will need to find playmakers at skill positions, but those players will be well protected by this offensive line. The defense will be led by three-star recruit Braylen Jackson at defensive end. There are plenty of question marks for a Lake Ridge team looking to get back into the playoffs while playing in the toughest district in the state.
Waxahachie has some work to do in 2020 after a 2-8 finish in 2019. The UIL didn’t do the Indians any favors by putting them in the toughest district in the state. The Indians do return 13 starters from last year’s team and will look to capitalize on the experience. Wide receiver Brandon Hawkins is back to lead the offense after posting over 1,000 yards receiving a year ago. Brent Martin will lead the offensive line, but Waxahachie will need to find playmakers on offense. The defense returns a solid secondary with Preston Hodge and Quincy Johnson leading the way. It will be tough for the Indians to make the playoffs in such a tough district.
That leaves the Waco Lions. I have Waco finishing last in this district after the Lions have finished 1-9 each of the last two seasons. Improving on that record will be difficult for Waco in such a tough district moving forward.
Player to Watch
If we’re being honest, there’s more talented players in this district than some entire states have this year. It was a tough decision, but I had to choose one of my favorite players I have ever covered. Cedar Hill quarterback Kaidon Salter is my player to watch for District 11. If Cedar Hill is to go on a deeper playoff run this season, Salter will be the one to take them there. The Tennessee commit is one of the most electric players in the metroplex and will be tasked with leading the Longhorns through the toughest district in the state. It won’t be easy but there isn’t any other quarterback I would want to have to help lead my team through this gauntlet. I believe Salter will revive the Tennessee football program, but I would love to see a deep Cedar Hill playoff run before Salter leaves the Lone Star State to become a Volunteer.
Team to Watch
My team to watch for District 11 is the DeSoto Eagles. DeSoto is loaded with talent this season and will give Duncanville everything it can handle in district play. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Samari Collier lead this team on a deep playoff run, and even potentially make it to the state championship game. This team is going to be every bit as fun to watch as Duncanville and all the other top teams in the state. I will take this opportunity to remind everyone that they call it “DeSoto U” for a reason. Watch out for the DeSoto Eagles this season.
With all of that being said we are done with Under the Microscope until next year. It was fun to preview each district in the DFW metroplex, but something better is just around the corner. Football kicks off this week! It will be an unorthodox season but 4A schools and below kick off at the end of the week. 5A and 6A will kick off five weeks from now and I can’t wait to see how everything plays out this season!